GREAT ESCAPE trip report.

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Posted by AADIVER on February 23, 2003 at 08:02:20:

Just back from a Sport Chalet charter on the GREAT ESCAPE, a one day trip to San Clemente Island I took with a degree of trepidation (a four syllable word for fear ;-) This was due to the numerous negative posts on this board about how the Sport Chalet scuba programs suck big time. Well, folks, my fear was for naught 'cause the trip was a solid 9 on the old 1 to 10 scale. Thanks to a couple of super DM's, the Terry and Jerry duo deck team, Cap'n Tim, Jerry Lewis (owner/operator of the SEA BASS), and Bill in the galley, you couldn't ask for a better run charter; a charter that was a 30 plus diver sellout. The DM's treated all of us as responsible divers, responsible for our own dive profiles and gas management, checked everyone back aboard. However, there were no roll calls by name or number before leaving each location.
First stop was the wreck of the BUTLER in Northwest Harbor. I dropped down the anchor chain and crawled around what was left of the wreck, hardly anything. Back aboard I learned I was on an old barge and not the BUTLER. My reputation as a highly experienced wreck diver was severely tarnished. But hey, it's been 15 years since I dove that wreck, give the ol' dude a break, will ya' ;-)
Next stop was a nearby reef and a sloping wall, very slight current, nearly flat sea, sunny and bright. Returning from the dive I passed a group of AOW students doing skills on their knees in a semi circle. When are they going to stop doing that nonesense in the real u/w world? Okay for beginning basic in a swimming pool, but NOT in Mer Madre.
Last jump was on an underwater Sahara desert: sand, sand, sand. It was supposed to harbor halibuts, but not today. Back aboard, we watched a bunch of divers surface several hundred yards downstream. The tag line had to be motored out to them as they bobbed above over 200 fsw. Glad they weren't practicing navigation skills on their knees. Or is basic navigation now a Specialty card/patch?
So, three dives, two great meals, and six hours steaming back to the barn. Would I go on a Sport Chalet charter again? With Tim's pro crew, in a heartbeat. Gotta get back to the BUTLER ;-)
And finally: if you see anyone wearing a T shirt that reads, Blue Lagoon Dive Shop - Truk Lagoon, IT'S MINE!! Some theiving sob stole it on the trip. That shirt cost me four thousand dollars!

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